CANVASES, CARATS AND CURIOSITIES

Expert Insights: 17th-Century Venetian Torchieres

 

Awe-inspiring in size and artistry, these incredible Venetian figural torchères pay homage to two of Italy’s most celebrated merchant explorers–Marco Polo and Amerigo Vespucci.

Standing over nine feet high, these impressive carved wood sculptures were crafted in the late Renaissance in the Lombardo manner and are masterpieces of the centuries-old tradition of Venetian woodcarving. Most works executed during this era were ecclesiastical or architectural in nature, such as the Archangel torchères found in the Palazzo Moncenigo in Venice (see image), a fact that makes these substantial secular figures an incredible rarity. Given their depiction of historical figures, these torchères would most likely have been specially commissioned by a wealthy Venetian merchant or public official to be displayed at the entrance of his palace. Outside of the similar pair housed in the Doge’s Palace in Venice, these figures are the only other secular pair known to exist anywhere in the world. 

 


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